A Little Mistake: The Little Kanawha Railroad

The Little Kanawha Railroad ran from Parkersburg, WV to Palestine, WV, about 29 miles in length. Construction began in 1897, and reached Palestine the next year. (Right of way)

"Transfer of Little Kanawha Railroad", Parkersburg, WV. Dan Kemper image via Hur Herald

Although, the road was actually intended to run southeast to Burnsville, WV, and while some grading took place, the rails never ran farther south than Palestine. At the north end near Parkersburg, it paralleled the Little Kanawha River to the immediate south, with the also-abandoned B&O Railroad Parkersburg Branch that is now part of the North Bend Rail Trail just to the north of the river.

Image: Historical Wirt County via Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Ultimately, $5 Million was lost on the venture, which if fully completed, would have tapped into the coal fields of West Virginia, as opposed to ending abruptly in what was essentially the middle of nowhere.

Although the project was a failure, a small bit of the line exists today as a short-line operator wholly in Parkersburg, WV, but much of the line was abandoned in 1933, while most other sections were abandoned by the B&O Railroad in the 1980's, who ultimately owned much of the right of way.

Thanks as always for reading!


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